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Metropolitan Museum Of Art In New York Says 16 Smuggled Antiquities Returned To India

Swarajya News StaffWednesday, May 17, 2023 12:56 pm IST
Pic Via Met Museum
Pic Via Met Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, US has announced that 16 of the Indian works in its collections, which were linked to jailed smuggler Subhash Kapoor, have been returned to India.

Max Hollein, the museum director, had earlier this month announced that 16 pieces, including the Celestial Dancer sculpture, were returned to India due to new evidence of their provenance.

“Last month, in light of new provenance information, we returned 16 works to India, including the Celestial Dancer, a sculpture that enraptured visitors for decades," Hollein was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. The "celestial dancer" is a reference to the 11th-century sandstone sculpture of an 'Apsara' from Madhya Pradesh. The sculpture is valued at over $1 million.

The sculpture was reportedly part of the collection at The Met that has been linked to Kapoor, who is currently serving 10-year prison term in Tamil Nadu, after being convicted of smuggling antiquities.

Repatriated antiquities are typically given to Indian authorities abroad, who then inform the ASI, the custodian of such repatriated objects, IE reported citing sources.

A team sent by the ASI verifies and documents the objects, following which a decision is taken about their physical return to India.

In its statement, the Met announced that it would conduct an "intensive review" its collection. and the process of acquiring works and artefacts.

The museum has formed a committee to review the process of acquiring works and artefacts.

The museum would also hired a manager of provenance research to investigate the origin of its assets.

Earlier on 30 March, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it will return 15 sculptures to the government of India.

These works were found to have been illegally removed from India and were sold "at one point" by Subhash Kapoor.

The 15 Indian antiquities include the Celestial Dancer, a Yakshi Terracotta from West Bengal dating back to the 1st century BCE, a bronze sculpture of God Revanta Returning from the Hunt from the 10th century CE, and a 15th century Parikara (backplate).

The total value of the 15 artefacts was reportedly estimated at $1.201 million (about Rs 9.87 crore).

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